District Attorney: Woman who hit Whitehouse students, teacher, h - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

District Attorney: Woman who hit Whitehouse students, teacher, has previous DWI charges

Joan Marie Novak (Source: Wharton County Jail) Joan Marie Novak (Source: Wharton County Jail)

Officials say Joan Marie Novak was in violation of her bond when she drove her truck the wrong way on a highway and hit several Whitehouse Independent School District vehicles late Saturday night.

The accident happened around 10:30 p.m. on Highway 59 in Wharton, TX. About 25 Whitehouse High School students and several teachers were on their way home from a contest in Houston when a Toyota pick-up truck driving the wrong way hit one of their cars head-on. Whitehouse teacher Holly Mann and two other students, Jacob Smith and Jennifer Aragon, were taken by care-flight to a Houston hospital. All suffered multiple injuries but are expected to survive, officials say.

Wharton County District Attorney Ross Kurtz told KLTV that Novak has a previous DWI arrest from 2012. As part of her bond, she is required to have an interlocked device on her car, similar to a Breathalyzer, which would not allow her to drive if she was intoxicated. He says Novak was in violation of this requirement at the time of the accident.

Kurtz said his office is prosecuting Novak for the 2012 offense because it is believed that she has a prior DWI conviction from approximately 13 years ago. Kurtz also said that Novak was prosecuted in 2008 in Wharton County for DWI; that case was pleaded instead to deadly conduct.

Officials say Novak did consent to a blood test while at the hospital the night of the wreck involving the Whitehouse students and teacher.

Results from that blood test could take several weeks to get back. Kurtz says Novak will face charges for the violation. He added this incident is being investigated as a DWI.

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